In recent months the issue of Native Americans mascots has resurfaced in the media. This time the debate revolved around public schools that are still using the derogatory term “Redskins” as a name, mascot, or nickname. This month California became the first state to ban the use of “Redskins” as the team name, mascot, or nickname of any public school. Although the issue of Native Americans being used as mascots is not a new issue the recent legislation passed by Gov. Jerry Brown has once again brought this issue to the surface.
As a humanities major my main interest is culture. I study cultures throughout time via art and literature. I choose this issue because last semester I took a very eye opening American Indian class that helped me see the dismissal and appropriation the dominant culture is still inflicting on Native Americans today. This debate has been going on for several years and is not going away; it is time for people to understand the issue on a deeper level.
1. What is the history of the issue?
The name “Redskins” has been used by the Washington NFL team since 1933. The name was originally adopted by the football team as a way to honor their Native American coach, William Henry "Lone Star" Dietz. Since then the name has been adopted by many organizations, including public schools. In 1968 a campaign was launched by the National Congress of American Indians against all Native American stereotypes in popular culture (Vrentas, 2014). The campaign addressed the harmful stereotypes of Native Americans seen in popular culture, the media, and sports. Soon after organizations started dropping derogatory nicknames, names, and mascots and started replacing them. In 2014, state legislature in Califor...
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...1987 by Charlene Teeters” (King 9).
• “While 62 high schools across the country still used the "Redskins" name as of 2013, at least 28 others dropped the mascot in the 25 years before that, according to a Capital News Service analysis” (Waldron, 2015).
• Native American mascots are negative images that are harmful to the self-esteem and self-confidence of Native American youth.
• In 2014, state legislature in California passed a bill to prohibit the use of Native American mascots, names, and nicknames from public schools, but it was vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger.
• In Dec 1, 2014, the California Racial Mascot Act (Assembly Bill No. 30) was introduced by Assemblyman Alejo.
• In October 11, 2015 California made civil rights history when Governor Jerry Brown signed into law bill AB-30 which eliminates the “Redskins” as a mascot from all of the state’s public schools.
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